The mother of a young Inishowen woman, murdered in India a year ago, has said her killer may have taken her daughter’s voice, but she “will not let her be silenced.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Danielle McLaughlin, from Buncrana, was found dead in Goa, India, on March 14th, 2017.
Vikat Bhagat is to stand trial in the country accused of her rape and murder.
A number of fundraising events have been organised and a Go Fund Me page set up to help Danielle’s family with the enormous legal expenses the trial will accrue. The Department of Foreign Affairs does not and will not provide financial assistance or legal aid/expenses.
Speaking ahead of her daughter’s first anniversary, Danielle’s mother Andrea described her as someone who was “so kind and so full of life.”
She told of how, when Danielle was in a room, you “knew she was there as she was so loud.”
“She never sat - always moving, dancing,” said Andrea.
Danielle, who was “so emotional and cried over small things” adored and was adored by her wee sisters, who she called ‘her girls.’ She was also so loved by her ‘amazing’ friends from all over the world, who she classed as family and who will always remember her.
Andrea said Danielle was someone who cared so deeply for others.
She said: “When my late husband was dying, she travelled from Australia to help me and be here for him and us. She did the same thing a few months later when my dad was dying - she came and helped with him. She was so kind and generous and put others in front of herself.”
Andrea described how the past two - three years has been ‘very tough’ for all of them, but said she has to ‘keep going’ for Danielle’s sisters. “And I know she would want me to keep going,” she said.
As the Irish Embassy has refused to help with legal costs, Andrea and Danielle’s family and friends have not only had to cope with their grief but have also been trying to raise money.
Andrea said the worry and pressure ofthis “has stopped me grieving for Danielle.”
She said: “I worry all the time about the costs as I feel if I can’t get the money Danielle will have no lawyer, so she will not get the justice she deserves.”
Andrea is thankful that so much money has been raised locally to pay for repatriation and funeral costs, but the largest costs to date have been the legal team here in Ireland and the many investigators, advisers and lawyers in India.
It has been confirmed that the family’s legal team has been granted permission to assist the prosecution with the case, “so they are all busy getting to the bottom of what happened that night to poor Danielle in Goa.”
Andrea said: “Unfortunately there is no government aid or fund for helping families out who have lost loved ones abroad here, or in India, so we are on our own if we want a proper legal team and Danielle deserves the best.
About two thirds of the legal fees so far have been paid, so they need to continue to fundraise to help pay for the rest, ensure they don’t “worry about money” and can “focus on learning the truth and also to try and move on a little.”
Andrea paid tribute to all who have helped them so far this year.
She said: “It would be impossible to thank everyone individually, but it has been so amazing the amount of support local and from abroad, both financial and the stories pouring in about Danielle are so great to hear and a little consolation that she shone so bright in so many countries.
“I must thank Christy (Duffy) and all the rest of the fundraising committee as they have devoted so much time for the various events and asked for nothing in return.”
Andrea said they would be very grateful if anyone, including musicians, could help in any way “to stop the added pressure of fund raising so me and Danielle’s sisters, family and friends can finally grieve for her.”
She said: “I know times are hard, so don’t worry if you can’t support this cause and I thank you all in advance for any donations made.
“As they say, ‘every little helps’ and I know getting those bills out of the way will be one less thing to worry about and help bring a little truth and peace to everyone who loved her.
“He took Danielle’s voice but I will not let her be silenced.”
Mass takes place in Cockhill Chapel at 7.30pm tomorrow night (Wednesday) with tea and sandwiches as a thank you to the community afterwards in the Exchange, Buncrana.
Those interested can donate by visiting www.truthfordanielle.com or visit any Ulster Bank and say you’d like to donate to ‘The Truth For Danielle Fund’ with an account in Ulster Bank, Buncrana.
Andrea said: “I believe justice will happen and the accused will be found guilty, as all evidence in India and Ireland points to the accused.”